By Collin Ross
After a few years of marriage, I asked my wife if she thought I was athletic. She responded, “I would say that you are active.” It was a blow to my ego, but it was true. I come from a long line of artists, not athletes. When I go to the local gym, I see these guys lifting weights that are three or four times what I struggle to budge, and I can’t help but feel insecure. There is no way I could do that.
“There is no way I can do that” has been a mantra in my life, especially when it comes to obedience to God. The Bible is filled with commands. When I read the teachings of Jesus, I come away thinking, “If Jesus had His way, He would change everything about the way I live! There is no way I can do what He wants.”
Fear is the normal, human response when tasked with something that we feel utterly incapable of doing. Isn’t it problematic, then, that our God frequently asks us to do what we believe is impossible?
The nation of Israel was called to be a light and a kingdom of priests so that the nations of the earth could see the righteousness of God in the way that Israel conducted herself. Talk about a tall order. In Isaiah 41, the God of the universe summons all the nations of the earth to stand before His judgment seat. No one is comfortable in the presence of the Holy One, “the whole earth trembles” (Isaiah 41:5). I can relate to their discomfort. There have been many times in my life when, knowing the depths of my unfaithfulness, I was afraid to even pray.
And yet, He says to Israel, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (v.10). From beginning to end, the mantra of God in Scripture is, “I am with you.” When our hearts cry out, “There is no way I can do this!”, the response from God is, “I know, and I am here to help” (2Timothy 1:7).
God strengthens us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. John writes, “This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit” (1John 4:13). When the fear of failure casts a shadow over our hearts, we can turn to the Spirit who relays to us the truth of God’s grace, thereby freeing us from our fears. The Spirit reminds us that God is for us. In the words of Paul, “If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:31–32).